>Sunday in Haiti, Coffeedoc posts

>A report from Tom, perfect for today, this Sunday:

 So I wondered where we might find a Mass this morning. Our hosts told us that they thought there was a Catholic Church just up the street. Ernest and I walked down there to see really early this morning so as not to miss an early morning mass. It was a church named after Santa Theresa of the child Jesus. Unfortunately, their priest wasn’t going to be able to say Mass there today, covering other churches which have been destroyed by the earthquake I believe.

Church of St. Therese of the child Jesus, Jacmel,  Haiti

A man who was there, perhaps the sacristan, offered to take us up to where there was going to be a mass in Cayes Jacmel. We went out to the street and flagged down a “tap tap” which is Haiti’s version of a taxi, kind of like the blue and white vans in Ethiopia.

 We drove for several miles and then got out. We walked up a dirt mountain road for another half mile to reach a clearing which was being used as the church since the church building had fallen.

 It was a beautiful service some of which I have video of. Here are some pictures.

Ernest at Mass.

I love you all and miss you.

>Haiti: Corporate goodness and update


 Pic snagged from Cindy.  But it’s got my Tom.  
On the plane, flying in.  That’s Cindy next to him.  Thanks Cindy!
Got a call from Tom/Coffeedoc last night! Skype is an awesome thing.  We couldn’t  see each other and the connection dropped a bunch of times, was spotty but heck, we talked with each other…caught up on the week.  Fantastic!
I wanted to mention a surprising bit of corporate goodness.  
It doesn’t happen that often, maybe, nowadays and when it does I think it deserves a mention.  Southwest.  Yup, Southwest airlines.  
They did the right thing.
Tom and the team scrambled to get flights down to Ft. Lauderdale in order to meet the private plane down to Haiti. (See earlier post on that fiasco.  Thanks again Mike!) They had less than 24 hour notice to get the flights, gather the food, gear, meds, supplies, change their schedules and get to the airport.  Needless to say, any advance negotiation with the airline didn’t even occur to us.  Doh.  
As we pulled up to the airport, my very large suburban loaded to the rafters, to meet the team that had already offloaded another big load of supplies….we realized, uh-oh, this is gonna cost us.  Will they even be able to get the gear on the plane? Bag limits and all.  But there we were and so we were gonna give it a go and see how it played out.  
Well, it played out brilliantly.  
 By which I mean, a Southwest guy came right over to the car, heard that this was all to take to Haiti, and pulled over a huge luggage cart and started helping us unload the car.  No questions asked.  Helping tape up the tubs, fast.  (And, in typical style, we were very late on arrival, WELL inside that two hour, um, one and half hour window…what can I say, it was a scramble).  
Ernest, the CRNA on the team, came out to meet us (He arrived on time, ahem) and said that Southwest had already taken his big huge load of supplies, happily.  So Ernest, started helping too and we had that car unloaded in record time and they whisked tom inside to check him and all this extra stuff in.  I kissed him hard and said goodbye, holding my breath and beginning to tally a guess at the overcharge.  
Tom called me later to tell me the news:
Not only did Southwest help us out of the car in record time, they took every single box and tub.  They didn’t blink.  And they didn’t charge us a dime.  
They took twenty-three extra tubs and boxes, adding up to a weight of 3/4 ton, and no charge, no trouble, no fuss.  They did it with a smile.  
Now.  That’s corporate goodness worth smiling about and worth a shout. 
Good for them.  
So, go fly Southwest Airlines. 
They are doing their part to help too. Maybe in other ways as well, donating and so on.
But this week, this was a real help, in real time, for real people.
I’ve mentioned that its a logistical nightmare to get down to Haiti to help, much less with almost a ton of supplies and gear.  
But Southwest stepped up and  helped.
And it made a huge difference. 
So, thank you Southwest Airlines!!!
We think you are terrific!

And on another note: Cindy has a terrific update today and some fantastic pics!! (My personal fav, I shamelessly snagged, above)Go see her, it’s a great read to start the morning.

>Haiti, trip report


Today I got pictures and an email from Tom! whoohoo!
They have limited net, spotty, but sometimes, so he sent me a short email and these pics.

Flying into Jacmel.

They are all doing great, very tired but good.
Tom says he forgot how noisy it is there in the morning with the cacophony of animals! Not much different from home, that…ahem.
Anyhow: here’s the Haiti report today:

We’re very limited in bandwith but actually have some, imagine!

We’ve greatly expanded a clinic that was left standing so that is now being used as if it was a hospital. Everything But surgery and two clinic rooms is taking place outside The 2 procedure rooms and another room have been converted into ORs. We and others have brought tons of gear — we have most but not all things so we have to be creative, but we are doing surgery!

He sounds happy (tired, but still) to me. Surgical problem solving…and getting creative. He’s good at that so I’m glad he’s there. He does say however that it’s crazy hot. And we are having a snow day here, waiting for a ‘big storm.’ Life is kinda crazy sometimes. But it’s all good. And go read Cindy’s blog for her report on yesterday, good stuff.

>This is the blog

>The other blog, I mean.
Not  mine.  But Cindy’s.  Cindy the nurse who went with them to Jacmel.
It’s called Haiti’s Surgery Blog.

She’s gonna try to post daily, no promises, but she’s gonna give it a go.
And if she can, it will be here{And she doesn’t even know me/us, so this blog would be a more objective report. no?  If Tom’s causing trouble,  you’ll see it here first! ha!}
So, go, read, pray for them too if you’re of the mindset.
That’s my husband over there (in the pic below, jacket/beard), and I’ll appreciate it too.

Cindy is the gal in the blue.  
I haven’t met her, but can only guess she’s terrific.

This is the orphange/children’s village where they are staying.

It’s called Hand and Feet and it’s totally cool.
I didn’t know of it, but now am quite the fan!
It’s an orphanage but more a ‘children’s village” where the kids can grow up safe and educated, in loving homes, in their home country.  Awesome.

Go, read, look, see, pray, support, donate even. 
Great stuff there. 
Heroes on the ground.
One of the fantastic things to come out of a horrendous crisis: finding out about new amazing organizations and people who are quietly changing the world…like the folks behind this children’s village.  Just cool.

>This is the Plane


Not the greatest pic, it was early and on a phone..but its them.
This is the plane.
This is the plane that took the team to Haiti.
 This is the pilot.
This is the pilot that flew the plane.
This is the pilot that answered the call.
This is the pilot that answered the call, that flew the plane, that took the team to Haiti.
These are (some of) the pallets.
These are the pallets that are part of the supplies.
These are the pallets that are part of the supplies, that were flown by the pilot, that answered the call, to fly the plane, to take the team to Haiti.
This is the team.
(photo h/t: Cindy)
This is the team that went with the pallets, that were flown by the pilot, that answered the call, to fly the plane, to take the team to Haiti.
You get the idea.  (Sorry, it’s been that kind of week, getting punchy.)
It’s a team effort and a logistical nightmare to get a team to Haiti!
But I want to throw out a “hooray for you” and special notice to the pilot here.
He answered a call, at the last minute, for help.
Tom and the team arrived in Fort Lauderdale expecting to fly out early yesterday morning (wed the 27th).  The private corporate jet that was scheduled to take them to Jacmel was snagged by, um, corporate stuff of some sort.  So there they were, w/ over a ton of supplies: 3/4 ton medical, food, etc.
All ready to go.
But no plane no plane!
Finally this pilot came through.
ALL the way from DALLAS!
He flew in, and they were racing the sun.
They had to get the plane loaded and refueled in time to land and take off in Jacmel.  No runway lights in Jacmel, of course.  Well, it wasn’t happening.  The sun was setting.  But this morning, they did it.
They took off.  Cheering all around.
And the other part that no one will ever see is that this pilot, Mike Gibson, will also make a second trip today.  That second trip is just as important as the first.  All those supplies couldn’t fit on that plane, and the team, in one trip.  So he is dropping the first load and the team, returning to Ft. Lauderdale, loading the rest up and flying back to Jacmel.  Today.  Before the sun sets again.  Whew. I’m tired just thinking about it.
Good for him!
Good for him for doing this, at huge personal expense – both time AND money.
So I want to say hooray for him!
If you need a small plane and are in the area,  go use his biz.
I’m thinking he’s a good guy, a good egg.
So, Mike, thank you!
That’s Michel Gibson,  of Michels Aviation
Coffeedoc and the team did!
And I just got a text, they are in Jacmel, Haiti, safe and sound.  
Thanks Mike!

>Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas


Now there are many reasons to be fond of St. Thomas Aquinas, especially here in our little/big family.  First off, of course, there is my dearest Coffeedoc, who, as we all know, is really named Thomas.  Such a great name. 

Other reasons run from loving the Dominicans, in general, and these ones, in particular…..to the fact that he is a patron of scholars and academics, he was underestimated and considered to be slow; dim even. 

 Our wonderful Nashville Dominicans….love them!

Little did his contemporaries know, he was a genius.  A future Doctor of the Church; by which I mean, he is an “authorized teacher” of the Church.   You want to learn good solid doctrine? Go read up on some St. Thomas Aquinas! Anyhow, this silent genius was also made fun of, just like so many of us, he was um, larger than the standard….and between his silence and his bulk he was often called the “Dumb Ox.”  Awwww.  That’s just mean.  And at University!  Sheesh!

Anyhow, the point being: he is a saint for us all.  If you a hyper intellectual, a struggling student, someone struggling with their excess girth, ahem, someone who is underestimated, bullied, someone trying to live a chaste life (Which we all should, but that’s another post.  And get your mind out of the gutter, “chaste” doesn’t have to mean prudish or pathetic.), teachers, Italians, aficionados of Italy….you name it.  In our house we will have a particular devotion to St. Thomas, asking him for prayers for our Buddybug as he ventures forth, all too soon, to study here for a semester. 

But really, almost any way you look at it, or him, St. Thomas Aquinas is a good egg, all around.   

St. Thomas Aquinas is a saint to learn a bit more about, and one much needed in our confused post modern times.

Happy Feast Day!
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

>Ordinary Heroes?

>They are all around us.  Unexpected, surprising…heroes.  
You hope for them, you pray for them.  And then, there they are and you kind of stand there with your mouth open in amazement.  I do, anyhow. 

Two young girls.  My girls.  These are their heroes, mine, ours.  
I’m talking about the teachers, the school principals, the aides, the special ed teams.
I’m finding these folks who are willing to go the extra mile, think outside the box…and they amaze me.
My gratitude for them is kind of unspeakable.
And some of them I’ve known, or thought I did, for a while, years even.
Some of them are new to me; but I’m so glad to meet them and start working with them. 

And the most important part is that these folks, the reason they are heroes??
It’s that they defy the stereotypes.
I’m talking about those horror stories that are hyped in the media and played out in stupid sophomoric movies: the public school ones, the Catholic school ones.  You’ve all seen them, I have too.  We’ve been soaked in them.

And it’s all too easy to buy into them, just a little bit.  Maybe I did.  Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did.  I was kind of worried about what the public schools would be like as I approached them about my girls.  What sort of things and folks would I find in searching out resources for the special needs that we have?  Would I be able to get the Catholic school, the Sisters and teachers, to step outside their comfort zone of a small private school? The kind of school with strict historic ways and boundaries?  Could those boundaries be pushed?
I didn’t know.

But I can now say, that I have been delightfully surprised, thrilled with the amazing people I’ve been meeting and getting to know.  These are the folks who are working with my two girls, so far, who are helping us all break down some barriers and think outside the box for some great kids who don’t fit the ‘standard mold,” if there is one.  These folks, are helping my girls get into school, get BACK into school….and to succeed.

I’ve homeschooled a long time. I love homeschool and always will be a proponent of it, but it’s a per kid per year per circumstance decision. But homeschool isn’t working for these two, now.  So, it’s been hard to find the right fit.  And there will be adjusting to be done, to be sure.

But these folks, and their willingness to be open to working with my girls, with us….they are breaking stereotypes, they defy them.  They are ordinary, or actually, extraordinary, heroes.
We are so grateful, for them all:

Nora.  Right there.  Saints among us. 
Sister Peter Marie, Ms. Freeman, Sister Peter Verona, Mr. Linville, Ms. Rosenblatt, Ms. Wehby, Ms. Christy, Coach, Father Gideon at SJV….and of course, Miss Deb.

Mr. Turner, Ms. DeVore, Mr. Verner, Ms. Blair, Ms. Oglesby at RSM

 And Mrs. Swafford, Ms. Ingham, Ms. Ashley, Ms Thomas, Ms. Apple at Howard.  

You are all heroes.  Extra-ordinary folks doing an amazing job.  Breaking stereotypes, opening eyes.  Quiet ones, maybe.  But heroes in my/our eyes!
My girls are back in school again, a new start for them.

A start offered, “whatever it takes;” one done with extraordinary kindness and willingness to help.
Outside the box. 
These folks have brought huge grins and, literally, claps of happiness from my girls.
To be back in school, ‘regular’ school.
It means everything. 

>Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul


 The Conversion of Saul
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.
Now, we all know St. Paul, he’s a big fish – so to speak.  No matter your denomination, he’s a ‘heavy hitter.’  But I kind of like that today we are not remembering just him, but specifically his conversion.  And really, this IS one of the really fascinating things about Paul, for me anyhow.  Maybe because I am SO resistant to change.  And Paul, he should be (if he isn’t already) the patron saint of change, of stubborn people, of opinionated strong-willed folks.  Oh gee, maybe he’s been one on MY patrons all along and I am only now figuring it out.  Doh!

But I digress.  Anyhow.  Paul’s conversion fascinates me.  It resonates with me.  Not because I’m all about persecuting innocent folks (I hope. Hush, Jon, I heard that!).  But rather, it’s because he was SO sure he was right, and filled with such pride and anger and intent about it all.  It was his mission to search out and imprison Christians-followers of Christ.  He HATED them.

And I find that really so intriguing, and so telling, and apropos of today.  Isn’t that just what is going on today? In our modern, oh-so-enlightened, world?  We all do the same darn thing.  Sometimes even to the same levels of persecution and self-righteous surety.  Even the hate.  But the point is just this: Saul/Paul (he was born Saul, of course, and renamed Paul by Christ at his conversion) didn’t KNOW.  He thought he knew it all, all about those Christians, all about what they were about.  But he was wrong.  He didn’t KNOW them.  His hatred of them was manufactured from his own pride and ignorance and misguided ideas.

Oh.  Ouch.

How often do I do that?  Too often.
How often does the world, the media, the shouting commentator, do that?  All the time.

And I think that maybe we all need to get knocked off our horse now and then.  I know I do.  And really, literally, Saul was KNOCKED off his horse (which I just love, such a great real life thing to happen, sorry Paul, but I do, love that).  Blinded by the light of Christ.  And that light, really SEEING him, and being called by name by him…it changed everything.  It was Saul’s conversion.  It converted his whole self, down to his very name.  And he let it.

He let it change him.

That’s the second part of this that I have to just sit down and contemplate, for the rest of  my life.  Every day.  And still it will boggle my mind.  Because isn’t that the hardest thing? Ok, for me, I think it is.  Change.  I struggle with it, all the time, every day just about.  I resist the big changes, drag my heels through them, or pretend I’m not resisting and steamroll through them to find the new (as close as possible to the old) normal to get back to my comfort zone.  I hate being out of my comfort zone.  Hate it.  But Paul embraced that, in a humbling yet total all-in way.  And in doing so, he changed the world. Whoa. That’s something for me to think about.

So, enough blathering.  Enjoy this feast day.  I think it’s a cool one, hip and modern in its own way.  Timeless.

Happy Feast of Conversion of St. Paul!
St. Paul, pray for us!

>Old Dog, new tricks: potty training 107


New  underwear is so much fun.

Ok, I have to say it.  We’ve been potty training.  I wasn’t gonna post on it, because it’s just one of those things, right?  Well, I thought so. I mean, I’ve done this SEVEN times, right?  (Hence, the 107 in the title…erk) Right. 

But this time is different.  Not only because Gabey is a brilliant sweet charming talented child, and no I’m not biased, thank you for asking.  But it’s different because, for the first time ever, it’s been a snap.

Now, I hate potty training.  Because my nature is a lazy slug.  And potty training, it’s messy.  And inconvenient.  Just contemplating it makes me want to go lie down.  And there are thousands of books on “how-to” and “Secrets-of” and advice out the wazoo.  I think somewhere on my shelves I own at least fifty of them. 

But, little did I know…there really IS a secret to potty training.  Ok, two.  The first one is not so much a secret: timing.  Ya gotta wait until the kid is ready.  I did have a go at it once or twice w/ Gabey over the summer.  Clueless.  Hopeless.  NOT ready.  We bailed.  And ya can’t wait TOOO long (that was my mistake w/ oh, most of the others – except Miss M.  She did it on her own and told me after, I swear. At two. Brilliant girl.).  But, it’s been cold and snowy and we’ve been hunkered down in the house and he just turned three.  Plus he’s in a phase where he refuses to wear clothes.  So, apparently, it’s time. Now.  Whoohoo!

{Yes, my house is a mess, it’s that shedding clothes thing, what can I say?}

But here is the “new trick” for this “old dog.”  And before I say it, I will point out that I realize it’s one of those ridiculous  “everyone knows it but you” kind of things.  And I would also like to point out that I will – evenutally – overcome my resentment towards my friends failing to let me in on this.  And I might, someday, overcome the  humiliation of NOT knowing this.  I long ago accepted I was no “super-mom.” This confirms it.  No matter how many kids I have.

So, here it is: BACKWARDS.

Backwards.  DOH! You put the kid on the toilet backwards!! Why didn’t someone tell me? Ahem -Jean? Toni? All of you bloggy gals?  You can’t presume I know ANYTHING.  I’m a dolt.  I had no idea!  Forget the tiny messy potties and the slippery seats and holding them up on the seat getting a cramp in your back from lifting them….let them climb on backwards, facing the tank!



Ok, apparently, everyone!  This was a light bulb moment for me.
Thank you, finally, Jean.   
Maybe it’s a southern thing?
Feel free to sound off here and let me know if its regional so I don’t feel like a total dolt (tho I’ve lived in the south long enough to train a few and no one told me.  Not that I”m holding a grudge, Jean……).  Did you moms know about this?? Sheesh.  Well, I didn’t.  But it totally was a light switch for my Gabey.  Ok, and me.  Hey, he can climb up on  his own, check everything out, feel secure.  Very empowering.  Done deal.  He’s trained for daytime and almost for night.  In less than a week.  AMAZING!

So, for those of  you who share my prior lack of knowledge, I”m sharing.
For those of you who presumed we all know, you’re wrong.
For me, I’m just celebrating.  Whew.

>Marching today


It’s the Annual March for Life today.
Coffeedoc, Buddybug, Bananas, her best friend, and Marta are all in DC, today, for this.
 {So, because things are hectic (as usual) and I really can’t say this differently, I am reposting part of this from last year.}

This is from a year or so ago…I don’t have ones fro this year yet, of course.
I try not to get too political on this blog.
But it is surely no surprise to anyone that our family, I, we, are pro-life.
We are Catholic.
The Catholic Church has made it’s position on the spectrum of life issues very clear, very simple: All life is sacred. Period. Beginning to end. No matter what, where, who.

And before you get started….I am quite clear on all the facets of this issue, and have worked through different things and thoughts about it all over the years.
But finally and fully, as a Catholic who has discovered the deep beauty and richness in the faith, I realized it IS simple. And for me, though I spent years having long and important discussions on all the angles of this and these issues, finally it hit home in the most visceral way possible.

This is why I am pro-life.
Look, really look, at these faces.
How can I not be?

And while the actual March for Life happens today, the more, the most, important event (some might argue this point, but I would disagree) happened last night: the annual Vigil and Mass for Life. 

 {Last night, waiting for Mass}

Last night at the Cathedral

In the packed Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, with Bishops and religious and just regular folks from all over (thousands upon thousands), all jam packed in to pray. 

[Last night, waiting for Mass to start]

They wait for hours (often 4-6) before the Mass even begins, just to make sure they have a spot. They pray, they talk and then, they pray in community: the Mass.  Even with that long wait, the enthusiasm is not dimmed.  (And, frankly, I believe this is the most powerful method of change.  Marching is good, graphic gruesome pics are off-putting and are not, but prayer is best.  It works.  Coming together in force to pray….priceless.)

 {Last night, waiting for Mass to begin}

There is also a Youth Rally and Mass for Life the next morning (today) the day of the March. Here’s a snip from last year.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, protector of the unborn, pray for us

And, if you can’t make it in person, your voice can still be heard...this site has a way to “be there” virtually, with an avatar even (how hip), and march in solidarity.  (thanks Shannon!)

>Feast of St. Agnes


El Greco, St. Agnes.

Today is the feast of St. Agnes.
St. Agnes is a patron of many, but most especially apropos today: of young girls and also those victims of sexual assault.  Considering the news of the disaster in Haiti and the spinoff news and reality of the vulnerable children stranded by this crisis there….St. Agnes and her prayers are much needed. 

St Agnes (- 304)
Agnes was filled with the love of God from an early age, vowed herself to celibacy, and when the opportunity of martyrdom arose, she did not hide away but stepped forward and took it.

  That is really all that is known: but it is enough. We who are used to compromising with the world at every turn, and would find excuses to avoid any inconveniences that our faith might cause us, let alone martyrdom (“yes, of course I would die for my faith in principle, but wouldn’t I be able do more good in the long run if I stayed alive just now?”), should admire the simple wisdom of Agnes, realise that there are moments where compromise and moral ambiguity just will not do, and pray for the strength to live up to such moments when they happen. 
From Universalis, Commentary, Office of Readings

 St. Agnes, pray for us.
Pray for the Haitian earthquake victims, especially the children.


>To meme the impossible meme

>One word.

Yeah, right.
Jen tagged me and I had to laugh. She’s a good friend, and I love her blog too, go visit.

But……Me, one word? Maybe she’s trying to tell me something. Cmon, you all put her up to it, right? “Get that Coffeemom to pull it down. One word, please!” I know.
So, I”m a good sport. I’ll give it a go. No promises tho.

Besides the news has been so hard, a little lightheartedness is nice to surf.
One word is all you need. Shouldn’t be so hard. Well, here you go. My answers to the questions that required one word answers- more difficult than you think. 🙂

1. Where is your cell phone? desk

2. Your hair? messy

3. Your mother? big-hearted (hypenated words are counted as one, right? ack, see, number three and I’ve already blown it. Sigh)

4. Your father? Loyal

5. Your favorite food? Bread

6. Your dream last night? Unsettling
7. Your favorite drink? Coffee!

8. Your dream / goal? Organization

9. What room are you in? Study

10. Your hobby? Reading

11. Your fear? rats (And opossums, which are essentially large rats.)

12. Where do you want to be in six years? Italy. Ok, no, here.

13. Where were you last night? Bananagrams tourney
14. Something that you aren’t? type B (jen’s. I’m stealing it too)
15. Muffins? Toast
16. Wish list item? Sugar. Always sugar.
17. Where did you grow up? Arizona
18. Last thing you did? emailed
19. What are you wearing? Jeans
20. Your TV? On

21. Your pets? dog, cat

22. Friends? Long-suffering, patient treasures

23. Your life? Unspeakably blessed
24. Your mood? Distracted

25. Missing someone? Sister

26. Vehicle? Yukon XL

27. Something you’re not wearing? warm enough clothes

28. Your favorite store? Bookstore

29. Your favorite color? Indigo

30. What was the last time you laughed? Last night

31. Last time you cried? Yesterday

32. Your best friend? Coffeedoc

33. One place that I could go over and over? Carlsbad

34. One person who emails you regularly? Jen

35. Favorite place to eat? Paris, no Italy, no Boston, no San Fran…..(I can’t pick, I love to eat.)

I’m not passing the award. I mentioned that I wasn’t caffeinated enough yet right? Besides, I know how hard it is…..

>On Haiti


Photo by Reuters/Jorge Silva, courtesy www.alertnet.org
We are all – in our homes, across the blogosphere, around the world – praying and watching and agonizing over Haiti and the incomprehensible anguish there.  
It weighs down our hearts and minds.  So little, it seems to be done.
However, for what it’s worth, here is a great organization:  
They are on the ground in Haiti, intact.  They have had offices there for a long time and have a history of great work, around the world, but even more pertinent now, in Haiti.  
Their offices are intact.  They are there, front lines, now.

 CRS staff load a truck with meals-ready-to eat for medical staff 
at St. Francois de Sales hospital on Friday, January 15. 
The hospital is supported by CRS’ AidsRelief program. Photo by Lane Hartill/CRS

[First responders, working NOW, reputable, well respected, well managed organization.  The money doesn’t go to administration costs, it goes to NEED.]

You can trust that the donation (any amount helps) will be put to the best of use by the folks who are there and know the needs and how to make it happen.
Every little bit is needed.

Another way to help is, of course, to pray. I firmly and deeply believe, I know, it makes a difference.  We are connected.  Prayer helps, in ways we cannot fathom.

So, if you have a mind towards it, please keep Haiti in your prayers.
From our Pope Benedict:

I would now like to make an appeal regarding the dramatic situation in Haiti. My thoughts go out in particular to the people severely afflicted, just a few hours ago, by a devastating earthquake that has caused massive loss of human life, left a great number of people homeless, and left widespread tremendous material devastation. I invite everyone to unite themselves to my prayer to the Lord for the victims of this catastrophe and for those who mourn the dead. Be assured of my spiritual closeness to those who have lost their homes and to all people suffering in any way from this grave calamity, as I ask God to grant them consolation and relief amidst their suffering. I call upon the generosity of all so that our brothers and sisters living in this time of need and pain may not lack our concrete solidarity and the effective support of the International Community. The Catholic Church will not fail to take immediate action through her charitable institutions to meet the most pressing needs of the people.” — Pope Benedict XV 
{h/t to Curt Jester
Go, HERE, to read the Zenit article/interview with Cardinal Cores on the Haiti Crisis.
All Eyes on Haiti.”  A thoughtful interview, good information and things to think about as well.

>About those New Year’s Resolutions…


I don’t do ’em.

A classic, from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes
But more because I am lazy and impatient, (ok, a slacker) rather than any formed ideological stance.
Just so ya know…..

>Changing the Trajectory


 One of our referral pics.

So, our little Gabey Baby is now three, of course.  We did the birthday post and all that fun.
But today we went to the doc for his well baby checkup (And on time, I’d like to point out! A rare occurrence.).
And, no surprise to me, the doc pointed out that  he is super healthy and strong and smart and well.

And Gabriel has grown. 
Not only has he grown older and faster and funnier, he has grown taller and chubbier and healthier.
Not only has he grown in his quirks and climbing ability and refusal to wear clothes….but he has grown, bodily, right off the tracks.

 Gabey and me, at Kolfe meeting Ashalew, Kathy Wolf’s son.

This is the sweet priceless benefit of home. 
Of family.  Of love and a warm  house and plentiful food and a HOME.  
Gabriel has gone from a smallish “almost 50th percentile” in height and weight, to a healthy robust thriving 75th percentile height and weight. 

His trajectory has changed. 
This is the benefit of a home, for an orphan.
This is the benefit of a home, for us all.
Studies have shown this happens, and it’s a gift to see it play out in person.
His trajectory was changed in so many ways, not the least of which is truly, literally physical.

And the unspoken, not so secret benefit of Gabriel being home, is our trajectory was changed, forever, too.  We love this boy.

>Ordinary Time


Today begins Ordinary Time, liturgically speaking.
Christmas season is over.

Lent has not yet begun (Feb 17.  Six weeks soon!).
This is the time between.  And for a long time, I used to kind of feel…bereft.  Like, ‘So, what now?”

Yeah, there’s the whole resolution thing (‘nother post, that).  There’s the whole gung ho, ‘get it together’ push from the culture at large.  Lose weight, get in shape, get organized, get back at it, get sharp, ya da ya da.  But, after all the richness and hoopla of Christmas…it’s easy to be kind of deflated, just a little anyway.  Or it used to be, spiritually, for me. Because, liturgically, this was kind of an undefined time for my senses.  And that made it hard for me to get a handle on it all….prayerfully speaking.  Where’s the focus anyhow? 

But ya know, one of the real perks of getting to be such an old crone is that some things come into focus.  And one of them is the beauty of Ordinary Time.

Because Ordinary time is…..ordinary.
I know I know….all you academics and intellectuals out there will direct me to the doctrinal underpinnings of this.  And those are great.  But I’m talking about just my whirly thoughts about it all and where my mind goes with all this.

Because it’s an interesting concept: Ordinary Time.  Why bother with even trying to think about it..isn’t it just TOO dull?  Maybe not.  Maybe it’s where the deepest beauty really runs, in some ways…the contentment, the rich, the fullness, the joy.  And really, to really truly find that deep contentment, don’t you have to kind of live in the moment?  Now?  In the ordinary stuff and fluff and mire of every-day.  Every day?  Um, I think so.  And, for me at least, that is really a MUCH bigger challenge than being swept along by the rich pageantry and bounty of traditions that are tied to Christmas.   My mind tends to dwell in the near future, what’s just ahead….much like a never stopping gerbil mill, around and around and around it goes. 

 And I only really have come to recognize the potential worth of this very ordinary-ness as I’ve aged up a bit and slowed down a bit and, honestly, gotten more and more mired in the most mundane of daily tasks and minutiae.  Sometimes that very mire of the ordinary and mundane can seem to almost drown you (Ok, me).

But if I lift my head, and slow down and try to be present in that ordinaryness, without having to try to knead it into something else, something bigger or more grand….if (And here’s the catch, for me) I ACCEPT IT….. then, and only then, can I catch a glimmer of it’s beauty.  Of the quiet goodness of it.  Or the loud goodness of it, as the case may be (Very rowdy boys in my house, ahem).

Anyhow, so I have kind of grown to like this season.  And I think it’s fitting that it begins in the dormant quiet of winter. I need this time too to bundle up, cozy in, slow down. I need to retrain my mind to quiet.  I need to retrain my mind to accept, this moment, good or bad, right here, right now.  Because it’s that lying low, fallow, and quieting – inside – that I struggle to find and hold onto.

But it’s a new season, starting today (or technically, last night after vespers…thanks Buddybug).
To embrace the very ordinary time of my days….that’s where I find the treasures.



Baptism of Christ, painting by Juan Fernandez de Navarrete.
This marks the end of the Christmas season.  Our tree came down today.  (The lights on the house will soon follow…no, really).  The nativity sets and ornaments packed away safely in tissue, the stockings gathered and stowed.  
Tomorrow begins Ordinary Time.  And, I’m ready.  It’s time.  
So, for today, Pope Benedict says it best:
“This…is the mystery of baptism; God desired to save us by going to the bottom of this abyss himeself so that every person, even those who have fallen so low that they can no longer percieve heaven, may find God’s hand to cling to and rise from the darkness to see once again the light for which he or she was made.”
Whew.  The best gift of Christmas.  
Don’t let go.

>Happy Bday to Our Gabriel!


Our Gabriel Louis Tariku is 3 today!
And a very happy 3 year old is he!

He has been home with us now, from Ethiopia, for just about eighteen months.

That time has flown, because we are having FUN!
He is a funny quirky smiling wild sweet boy.
He loves his mama, that’s me!
Ok, he loves the rest of the family too, but I relish that beaming love coming my way.
His best friend in the world is his big brother, Little Man.
They tumble like puppies throughout the house, all day long.
It makes us crazy sometimes.
Gabey will launch flying tackles at Little Man, who is twice his size.
Unfazed if he misses, laughing if he brings him down…up again for the chase.

Our Gabey Baby….not such a baby anymore:
Crazy for dinosaurs, but a little bit scared of the dark.
Crazy for chocolate and will sniff it out, find it, and gobble it up before you can blink or take it away.

Crazy fast for a little guy with such short legs.
Crazy for cars and trucks and balls.
Crazy in love with our old retriever; kind of torturing her with his overdose of affection.
Crazy about our cranky old cat: he is our “cat whisperer.”

Funny faces and a big huge laugh
And frankly, the loudest kid we’ve ever had, and that’s really saying something to beat Bananas.

A nudist for now, unwilling to keep clothes on of any sort, despite the dipping temps.
A destroyer of worlds, everything in his path left in post tornado levels.
A climber, a jumper, a daredevil…I’m a little worried about this one.

Gabey is my cuddly little guy, wanting and needing me to cuddle him to sleep and I can’t resist (this is how you spoil your last one).
He is cute and knows it, and works it.
He has never met a stranger, makes friends with everyone.

He is talking a mile a minute now, quoting Shakespeare and lengthy passages from novels.
Ok, maybe not quite, but sounds like.
He is stubborn, strong willed, relentless in his badgering for an answer.
We feel these skills will come in handy someday….just need much channeling now!

Our Gabriel.  
It’s your birthday!

That means Mickey Mouse cake and hoopla, because you LOVE Mickey Mouse.
And your favorite food other than chocolate: pizza (because I’m nixing the fries).


We wish you a happy happy third birthday, our Gabriel.
We love you so very much!!!!

>Bloggy Road Trip

>I am doing a guest post today!  Who’da thunk it!?
No kidding.   Yup, surprised me too..but I’m  honored (and shocked and surprised…another mini “Sally Field” moment).
Lisa at “A Bushel and a Peck” asked me to babysit a post day on her blog while she’s out of town.
So, I’m no fool, I said “You betcha!”

Now if you all haven’t checked out her blog, you should go, right now.  (No, not only to read my post…) You should bookmark it and check it daily, or at least really really often.  She is one of  my daily hits and mom heroes.  She has eleven beautiful kids and is a talented, amazing mom.  She is an inspiration to me; and a great resource both for regular old family stuff, larger family ideas, and also the full spectrum of adoption topics. 

My post today, on her blog, is another about older child adoption and adjustment.  About the dance of older child adjustment.  I’ve written about the dance of waiting, here.   But now that dance has changed.  It’s a very different sort of dance indeed.  Go, read, let me know what you think.  Say hello to Lisa for me and update your blog list if she’s not on it.  You’ll be glad you did.

>The Grieving of Christmas


Christmas is a time of deep joy and deep pondering and intense giddy highs.
Especially with children.

But so too it can be a time to step into the deeps, Christmas. It is also the time, for some, of some depression and hard periods if you’ve suffered loss (family, work, health). 
For a relatively newly-adopted older child, it is still a time for the giddy highs….but oh, it is so much the time for grieving.
Deep, unbidden grieving.

This grief seems to come at them, and me, when you least expect it.
Which of course means that they/I should begin to expect it, right?
Except, you can’t.
Or, I can’t.
And really, I don’t think she can either.
Because I cannot begin to comprehend it, not really…as I have not personally experienced such loss or trauma, not even close.
I cannot begin to really measure the depth of it.
Or the breadth, even.
So, we both get kind of gobsmacked by it all.

And all we can do is brace for it as it swells and overtakes.
And, sigh.  And try, to hold on…to what we know, to each other.
Hang on, soothe, redirect, wait, hold, endure. 
Sounds easier than it is.
Because it’s exhausting.
It’s the hardest of work of course, for both of us.

And it’s padded all around by woolly tufts of good and happy true grins and recognition of comfortable new grooves being laid down. 
But those chasms, they are deep and dark, with jagged tearing edges.
They hurt.
They ache.
They make me ache.
They make her ache even more.
They are exhausting.

And while it’s oh so easy for me to throw the pity party and say, gosh Christmas this year was so hard…to grieve myself for what I wanted it to be, only….
I think in a way that Christmas, this Christmas, was a chance to actually live Christmas more, um,  accurately.
Because I guess it’s closer to a truer Christmas, really, with both the joy of the birth/bringing of a new child into a family…and the cross that each child brings and that we all have to bear.
We bear it for ourselves and for each other.
So, I choose to reframe it, our Christmas, this year.

So, today, the last day of the Octave of Christmas, I can say:
Christmas at our house was crazy busy,
full of work,
full of fun,
full of highs,
full of lows,
full of grief.
Christmas at our house was exhilarating.
It was exhausting.
Christmas at our house was glorious.

>Happy Bday Nancy and Happy New Year!


Happy Happy Birthday to my best and only sister, Nancy!
(It’s ridiculously hard to get a picture of us, as we are both too vain, so this is it.)

I cannot keep track of precisely how old you are (you’re welcome)
But of course, the critical point is that you are, still, ever, older than me!
And since you always have and will relish that bossy pants older sister role, I get to relish being younger.
Fair’s fair in sisterhood, after all!

But, you are truly my bestest friend.
You are my role model for successful modern gal.
You, the high falutin’ attorney…partner in your own firm, in the media often, LA Unified’s secret weapon.
You juggle it all, and don’t quit.
You are Miss Fashion, always and forever.
And I will always be a little covetous of your closet.
You have me hooked now on great bags (And, happily, provide them for me).
You have a  huge heart and are generous beyond measure.
You are hard driving, opinionated, funny, but kind.

You are always, without fail, there for me when I need it.
You pick me up when I fall.
And you roll your eyes and put up with my crazy ideas and efforts.
And while over the years you have scolded me, countless times, for my lack of fashion know-how or interest, and for my lack of hairstyle or color…you have come to terms with my frump and now we are looking to our future as little old ladies together.
This will equalize that style field!
We are both kind of losing our minds at the same time.
It’s a comfort.
We can and do talk about anything and everything.

And I simply don’t know what I’d do without you.
Happiest birthday wishes to my dearest sister.
I love you so much and am unspeakably grateful for you.
I hope all your bday dreams come true.

>Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God


Happy New Year!

Sounds simple, a no brainer right?
Doh….Mary gave birth to Jesus.  Yup. We’re n the midst of the whole Christmas season, surrounded by nativity scenes, Mary pregnant on the donkey, Baby Jesus in the manger….that’s the quintessential “mom” scene.
This IS one of the uber Catholic solemnities….one of the ones that cause some division.  But in my humble opinion, that division is not justified; it’s a tempest in a teapot (to use momspeak).  So, why the big deal…”Mary, Mother of God?”

Well that term took some theological argument discussion.  Ages ago, literally.  Way, way, before the “Big split (into the whole Protestant/Catholic deal).” Even way before any real divide between Eastern and Western Christianity.   Because it speaks to Jesus and his Divinity and while it seems obvious, it wasn’t so much…and you know, folks like things really pinned down officially and academically.  Hence, long ago – 431 AD – they even held a council of the bishops of the world, those who had received the faith, entrusted to them, on down in succession from the Apostles, to officially pin this all down.  Because someone was teaching that Jesus wasn’t divine from the moment of his conception or even birth, but taught that he was elevated to divinity later.   Was Jesus divine from the moment of his conception, or was he born only human?  Did Mary give birth to a human person or a divine person?  Was Mary, or was she not, in that sense, “Mother of God?”  Can we even speak those words?  Well, God chose and prepared her for Himself, from all the women of all time, to be the bearer of His Son.  And while the first person of the Trinity, God the Father is the sole source of Jesus’ divinity, from “in the beginning”, and Mary the sole source of his humanity, by the power of the Holy Spirit these two natures are inseparably, indivisibly, united in the one person Jesus Christ from the moment of His conception — thus declared the great council of Ephesus.  And as God’s Son is Divine and not only human, well, then Mary properly IS to be called the Mother of God.

The precise title “Mother of God” goes back even further, at least to the third or fourth century. In the Greek form Theotokos (God-bearer), it became the touchstone of the Church’s teaching about the Incarnation. The Council of Ephesus in 431 insisted that the holy Fathers were right in calling the holy virgin Theotokos.

Really, it just remains kind of mind blowing to me.  Mary had the choice to say, “Um, nope, not doing this, too hard, too strange…really?  Mother of God?  I don’t get it….let me think about it.”  But she didn’t.  She said “Yes.” “Fiat.”  And thus the world began to be brought back into the proper order and we were all given the best present ever.

        “Long lay the world, in sin and error pining,
               ’til He appeared, and the soul felt it’s worth”

So today I am looking at icons.  Because today, on the last day of Christmas, we celebrate the mother, the Theotokos, the “Mother of God.”  And really, icons are about the only way to begin to wrap your mind around all this.  Because who can imagine God, really?  You can’t. I can’t — not really as He is.  And as soon as you think you are…well,  you’ve fallen into presumption now, haven’t you?  So, icons are perfect for today.  They function as “little windows into heaven.”  Icons (Ikonos — Images, in Greek) are images of the true Ikon, the one who images the Father, the one who shows us the Father, the face of God, that he revealed to the world “in the fullness of time” born of a woman, of a pure and holy virgin.  Whom He loves more deeply, more perfectly than any other son loves his mother, and whom “all generations shall call blessed”.

They are not meant to be realistic or have realistic lifelike perspective.  They represent what we cannot fully see with just our own eyes and senses; they image the world beyond the veil, the divine, the eternal.  And so today I want to look at these icons and ponder them.  Ponder what it means for her to be the Mother of God, the Theotokos…what faith and trust it took to say ‘fiat’, ‘be it done unto me according to thy word.’  To contemplate the fullness of it all and take maybe one or two (or the multitude that I need) lessons from it. 

Today ends the Octave of Christmas.  The new year is launched.  It is set in motion with a remembrance of the greatest faith and hope and love.  We step into the new year on the right foot, so to speak.  Today we celebrate mom, Mary.  I like that so much.  And, it’s really no coincidence that it’s also the World Day of Peace.  Because we mom’s, we are all about peace: the seeking, the getting, the craving, the searching, the making of peace.
Peace almost always begins with the mom.

Thus, we need today’s World Day of Peace and New Year to coincide with the Solemnity of the Mother of God.  It’s a big job, a big day.  We need the the biggest hope and love of the best mother….because she brings us her Son. 

Happy New Year!
Happy Feast day!
Wishing us all a peaceful day and new year to come!